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Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry has written to Sadiq Khan about the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre and London College of Communication. She draws the Mayor's attention to serious failings in the developer's plan, including the lack of affordable housing, the loss of space for small businesses and the loss of affordable cultural and leisure space - and the serious implications for protected groups of each of these failings. These failings have been raised by local residents in campaigning and through the planning process.
I urge you to take over the application and act as the Local Planning Authority. There is a very strong case for considering this scheme as a strategic and important development with London-wide significance on a number of grounds.
These include issues with compliance with affordable housing policies (where you have recently called in or directed refusal on a number of other schemes to ensure compliance) and also, the fact that the current shopping centre and surrounding places have a London-wide importance for the Latin community, as shown by compelling evidence provided by the Latin Elephant initiative.
Alternatively, your Stage 2 decision could also be to direct the Local Planning Authority, Southwark Council, to refuse the application due to a number of failings, including:
1. The application is not compliant with London Plan or Local Development Plan policies for affordable housing in either the number of homes or tenure split. In addition, the assumption that the scheme would receive over £11 million in GLA housing grant, which was added to the latest viability estimates, appears only to have served to increase the developer’s profit not the provision of affordable homes. The grant itself also has a number of hurdles still to clear before it is confirmed, as shown by the attached letter of clarification sent to me by David Lunts from the GLA.
2. The loss of space for small businesses, broken obligations for the use of the market square and other space nearby as replacement space, and the inadequacy of proposed relocation funds.
3. The loss of affordable cultural and leisure space, which particularly now provides for a number of protected groups including the Latin and other BAME communities, young people and older Londoners.
We are very grateful to Sian for taking up the cause of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre with the Mayor and for the Green Assembly members' long-standing support of grassroots community groups campaigning for a diverse, inclusive Elephant.
Below: Greens Shahrar Ali, Sian Berry, Rashid Nix, Liba Hoskin and Caroline Russell on a trip to meet members of the Latin American business community and Elephant Action Network in April 2016.
Southwark Green Party pay tribute to the many campaign groups and individuals who have managed to get important concessions in the Elephant & Castle development plan. Residents, traders, students, housing activists and support groups have worked tirelessly and deserve everyone’s thanks.
However, the concessions did not include suitable protections for existing traders, nor is there enough truly affordable housing. As such, we were dismayed to see it voted through.
We firmly believe that those who voted in favour have not paid 'due regard' to the equality impact. The Latin American community, who have made the Elephant a vibrant, welcoming home, will be massively affected. Many small business owners fear they will never recover.
The loss of the Coronet, which brings huge diversity of music to the area, and the inadequate plans to temporarily rehome the bingo hall and bowling alley will contribute to the social cleansing of our BAME communities and loss of facilities for older people.
We will be supporting any legal effort made to address these equality concerns, and urge the Mayor to use his powers to improve both the amount of social housing and the mix of affordable housing. 35%, with at least half social, should be a minimum standard, not a maximum.
Finally, in light of Islington Council successful legal challenge on viability, we call for a wholesale change of approach within Southwark Council to the issue of viability. Developers can no longer claim that a scheme is 'unviable' when they have overpaid for land. There needs to be a clear statement – if your current plan can not provide policy compliant housing, then you need a better plan.
The fight for a fair deal for traders and residents will continue, and we will be standing alongside all those who work to achieve this.
Who says you can’t deal with climate change in court?
Jonathan Crow QC, Attorney General to HRH Prince of Wales, is one of the lawyers representing Plan B - a charitable organisation - and 11 citizens ranging in age from 9 to 79. They are challenging the UK government over its inaction on climate change. The legal challenge is supported by the Green Party.
Plan B and others v the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy will use the successful Dutch case Urgenda Foundation v. The State of the Netherlands as legal precedent. In what was the first climate liability of its kind, the Dutch court ruled that climate change was a serious threat to life, that the Government had a duty of care to protect its citizens, and that its inadequate policies on climate change breached that duty.
James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, has said that Plan B's court case could have 'a big impact on the whole global situation'.
Supporters are welcome to attend at the Royal Courts of Justice, Court 76 from Wednesday 4 July 2018, 9.00 a.m. onwards
A flooded street in Thailand, 2011